How to Digitize a Photo for Embroidery

To digitize a photo for embroidery, you need to convert the image into a format that embroidery machines and software can read. The most common formats for embroidery are .dst, .exp, and .pes files.

The first step is to open your photo in a photo editing program like Photoshop, GIMP, or PaintShop Pro. You can then use the “Save As” feature to save the photo in one of the embroidery formats. When saving, choose a format like .dst, .exp, or .pes and adjust the resolution to around 72 dpi for embroidery. A higher resolution will result in a larger file size but more detail in the embroidery. For most photos, 72 dpi provides enough detail without an overly large file size.

digitize vector for embroidery

Once you have the photo saved in the proper format, you can import it into embroidery software to create an embroidery design. The software will convert the photo pixels into stitching patterns that can be sewn onto fabric. Some additional tips for digitizing photos for embroidery:

• Crop the photo to focus on the main subject before converting to embroidery format. This will reduce file size and stitching time, resulting in faster embroidery and less fabric waste.

 • Adjust the brightness and contrast to improve details. Some software also has a “posterize” feature to reduce gradients while preserving edges. This helps ensure all details translate to the embroidery.

• For color photos, convert to grayscale or limit the number of colors to 2-4 colors for easier embroidery. This will ensure the design stitches out smoothly without tangled threads and complex color changes.

 • Test the design on scrap fabric first to ensure proper stitching before using good fabric. Embroidery designs can be tricky to get just right, so testing helps avoid issues that would require re-doing the embroidery on your project fabric.

 • Consider using stabilizer under the fabric for larger, looser designs. Embroidery stabilizer provides stability so the fabric does not stretch out of shape as you stitch, which is especially important for looser designs.

• Play with different stitch types (running stitch, backstitch, etc.) and lengths for added dimension and interest. Using a combination of stitches, lengths and densities can make a design really pop and come alive.

With regular practice, you’ll be digitizing and embroidering even the most complex photo designs with ease! Feel free to ask any other questions you may have about converting images for embroidery. I’m happy to provide more tips and advice.